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Nutricosmetics: The Future of Beauty or a Waning Fad?

By: Carrie Lennard, Euromonitor International
Posted: October 5, 2009, from the October 2009 issue of GCI Magazine.

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Younger women in Western markets are also trying nutricosmetics at an increasingly early age, and it is now not uncommon for women in their 20s and late teens to be taking nutricosmetics, primarily as a measure to stave off the signs of aging. Perfectil, a skin hair and nails supplement sold in the U.K., is one such product attracting younger consumers, as the product is also recommended for acne use.

Some Formats Harder to Swallow

While beauty pill formats are gaining acceptance from consumers, it seems that others, such as certain beauty foods, are finding it harder to win over consumers. The much hyped Dove Vitalize (dark chocolate enriched with B vitamins) and Dove Beautiful (which includes vitamins C and E, biotin and zinc) chocolate ranges were launched by packaged foods giant Mars in the U.S. in February 2008. Industry insiders feted the advent of beauty chocolate as something that consumers would pick up on. Despite significant investment in product promotion, including association with New York Fashion Week in 2008, and the ample backing of the parent company, the high hopes largely failed to materialize, and the product was withdrawn at the end of the 2008. U.S. consumers did not buy in because, in general, they doubt the health benefits of the chocolate—viewing it primarily as an indulgence food, and one that should be limited in order to maintain a healthy diet.

Undeterred by the fate of Dove, Borba unleashed the DeLuscious Vitamin Enhanced cookies in the U.S. market in 2009. It remains to be seen whether consumers will find beauty enhancing cookies, the Borba range is designed to improve the appearance of the skin, more convincing than beauty chocolate.

Marketers of Beauty Foods Find it Hard to Win Over Consumers

Even beauty yogurts, which have been one of the favored options for beauty food manufacturers, are not entirely safe from a lack of consumer belief. The failure of Danone’s Essensis in early 2009 was proof that even products in formats that are traditionally associated with healthy eating may still fail if consumers remain sceptical about their added health benefits.

One of most difficult challenges in convincing consumers to purchase beauty-positioned Essensis yogurt was that it was sold alongside many other yogurts all claiming health benefits but priced at a much lower price point. In the French market, Essensis faced competition from products such as Activia, which, despite being more expensive than standard yogurts, managed to become one of the best-selling on the market. The key difference in the success of Activia as compared to Essensis was that Activia’s advertising focused on exactly how the product would work, rather than focusing on the ingredients—as Essensis had done.